Wow – and no I don’t mean Team 5s Wonder of Water – I mean WOW! We did it!
Last year, I came back from Museomix knowing I had to bring this experience to the UK. Would people understand? Would people show? Would they get what I got from the experience?
The answer is YES!
I think I speak for all of Orga team when I say ‘Holy Smoly!’ Or Beeep beep beep beep!
The following is a fast forward version of MuseomixUK. There are going to be people who read this thinking I forgot this part, or missed this part – rest assured I didn’t forget anything! Anyone who is trying to capture MuseomixUK in a post will know the struggle of adding everything.
On Friday, I witnessed people from all over the UK travel to Ironbridge Gorge Museum in the gorgeous Shropshire. Many had the ‘deer in headlights’ look that I sort of knew was going to happen. To avoid this as much as possible, I put three very friendly Shropshire faces on registration (huge thanks to Susan, Marissa and Theresa!)
During the introduction we warned people that their name badges made them part of the MuseomixUK community. I’m sure no one understood what that meant.
First step (in this fast forward version of Museomix) was a brief update to everyone on Museomix (I know they were still confused but they nodded in the right places). We also asked the Tech Shop and Fab Lab crew to talk about supplies and equipment available for teams to use (oh yes, this was met with massive blank stares but that’s ok as it made sense eventually).Tags: IGMT, museomix, Museomix2013, museomixuk
In 2011, I caught the hashtag #museomix on Twitter and immediately wanted to know more. One little problem – it was on in French, a language I can’t read or write. But I could tell from the 140 characters that this was something magical I was witnessing.
In 2012, I attend MuseumNext in Barcelona and heard Samuel Bausson speak about Museomix. He explained it came out of frustration – that real changes need to be done but it had to be changes made WITH people and museums.
I was hooked, I knew I wanted to get involved. I was invited to help on the web team (social media) at Museomix in Lyon, France. Again, I don’t speak French so this was going to be a challenge – or so I thought. My job was to report and watch the hashtag for English input.
What happened in those 3 short days was amazing. People who met each other on the Friday spent long hours all weekend to build a prototype as a team. It took a huge leap of faith from everyone involved: team members, coaches, organizer, the museum and more. This is not just about the prototypes – actually, it ISN’T about the prototypes – it’s about a platform for sharing, engaging and openness to happen in a positive way.
I knew I had to bring this experience to the UK. I live in Shropshire and spent a lot of time at Ironbridge Gorge Museums (I have a tendency to call it ‘my’ museum even when talking to staff). Ironbridge was the perfect choice as it’s home of the industrial revolution and Museomix is about taking things to the next level.
It was a perfect marriage.
I then decided to talk to the museum *ahem* and luckily they agreed. We knew last year when we started this process that it was going to be a long journey. At the time, IGMT didn’t have wifi (or very good mobile signal) and we had to worry about getting people to the venue as many (not looking directly at Londoners but near enough…) do not like to travel outside cities.
The museum has embraced the challenges and not only had Wifi installed throughout the location, but they are the first museum on the Global Fab Lab network. That’s right, a permanent Fab Lab has been installed in Enginuity which will be available to the public, schools and private hire long after Museomix UK leaves.
A year later and with a lot of support from an amazing Orga team, we are here.
Museomix UK kicks off on Friday, November 8 with people travelling from all over the UK, France and Russia to join us in remixing Coalbrookdale (Museum of Iron, Enginuity, The Old Furnace and the land) at Ironbridge. But it’s not just here, Museomix is a Global event happening in 6 locations: 4 in France, 1 in Quebec and us.
We will work 8am to 11pm Friday and Saturday with prototypes ready to view and be tested by the public on Sunday from 3pm – 5pm.
There will be laughter, arguments, tears, ideas, thoughts, dreams, wishes, and cake.
We have no idea until Friday at lunch what we are up against. It’s a mixture of excitement and quite frankly, fear. But I’m not worried. I know the people who are coming are bringing the most important thing: an open mind and a will to make a difference.
What more could we ask for?
If you would like to join us Sunday for the Open Day, please let us know here.
I’d like to do a big shout out to my Orga team:
Special Mention to Teresa M & Susan P for volunteering to bring smiles, we’ll need them!
And of course, the very brave Museum:Tags: museomix, museomixuk, open, sharing
Anna Brennand, CEO
John Hughes, Museum Project Coordinator MuseomixUK
Paul Gossage, Press
TAKEAWAY AND THOUGHTS
The name Askacurator can’t change but it is open to ‘Museums’. #AskaMuseum might alienate Art Galleries in some countries. How about we get the word out now that #askacurator 2014 is open to EVERYONE in museums – sound good?
The museums who jumped in and answered questions got more out of it. You can’t wait around to be asked questions. There are plenty of general questions that are waiting to be answered. Also, feel free to ask questions!
It was great seeing:
Museums/curators talking to each other. For some reason, 2013 saw a rise in conversations between museums of all sizes and topics chatting with each other.
Museums asking questions themselves. I saw a few museums asking questions that they were curious about – not just related to their own museum but to the sector globally. It was fantastic to see them recognize this day was a chance for them to find out things too!
A very heartfelt thank you to everyone who took part. #AskaCurator is participatory and only works when we all get involved.
KEEP READINGTags: Ask A Curator, AskACurator
The following is the list of museums who have signed up via the simple form. Any museums, art gallery, national trust, etc can sign up.
Want to know how to Take Part? There’s an article for that!
MUSEUMSYou might want to tell your followers the time your curator will be available. Some museums write it on their events page, others leave it open to see what questions they receive.However, to get your name out there – it helps to jump in to general questions and not just wait to be asked a specific question. Some people will use the hashtag to ask questions such as how to know what to collect, what skills are needed, what are the unknowns of being a curator etc. We also have a few #Askacurator people who have questions like ‘do you have a teddy bear in your collection’ or ‘what’s the funniest thing you heard in your museum’ etc. These questions usually make it to a blog/tumblr etc that people LOVE.Tags: Ask A Curator, AskACurator, museums
When is Ask a Curator?
It’s an all day event on September 18th
What is Ask a Curator?
It’s a way to talk to curators and people who work in cultural venues you normally don’t have access to. #Askacurator is open to everyone: Museums, galleries, National Trust, Theatres, and more. You can ask anything that you’re curious about or want more information on.
- What’s it’ like to be a curator?
- How do you decide what to display?
- What is the most unique object in your collection?
As some curators won’t know *all* the answers straight away, it might be they have to get back to you if it is a specific question about the museum/gallery. However, if it is a general question, you might find another museum’s curator could answer it.
How to get involved?
Use the hashtag #AskaCurator on Twitter. You can ask questions to specific museums using the @MUSEUMNAME or you can ask general questions using #AskaCurator.
Please fill out this simple form which will export your information to a spreadsheet to share. On the day you can schedule the time you are going to be there or you can dip in and out and answer questions when you get them. Others also decide to spend the day asking questions not just to their Museum but the general questions that are asked (last year, Bears in Museums asked who had Bears in Museums…. it was one of the top questions!)
In other words, curators spend as much or as little time as they want.
It’s also a good idea to let your followers know you’re taking part. Some curators will write a blog or tweet they are taking part in #askacurator.
Just come to twitter on the day and ask the questions. What I like to do is keep an eye on the countries and museums taking part and find a few unique ones that I want to know more about. You can set yourself a goal of asking a question to every country even!
Who can get involved?
EVERYONE! You just need to sign up for Twitter account if you haven’t yet. Curators can answer questions to other museums and/or general questions (how to questions, etc). Everyone is allowed to interrupt – this is Twitter after all!
I find using Tweetdeck or HootSuite makes following the conversation easier.
Hope this write up helps with some of the questions about what Ask A Curator is. If you still have questions please ask away or you can tweet using the tag
Why should you take part?
Many museums and art galleries who took part back in 2010 will testify to the great platform it gave them and large exposure that they would not have been able to achieve without #AskACurator. This is true for both large and smaller venues.
I’m always ask who people should follow on Twitter in different sectors. Usually, I’m like a deer in headlight – I know there are key people everyone should follow but I seem to forget ALL of them when I’m asked.
So I want a list of people you think should be on the Top Ten to follow in the following areas:
- Social media
Please feel free to add your own category too.
If replying on Twitter – please use #MarTop10
Closing date for Applicants is JULY 15thI’m Project Coordinator for Museomix UK, the only global Museomix happening in the UK and the only one that’s in English (4 locations in France, 1 in Quebec and us). The concept is not easy to explain as it’s an experience, not an event (although I tend to use both words).MuseomixUK will take place in Ironbridge (Shropshire, West Midlands) – the idea is it’s home of the Industrial Revolution and we’re trying to take things into the next revolution. I also wanted a location outside London, Birmingham, Manchester to prove that any museum could use maker communities to push things to a different level.The concept is this:3 days for different communities to come together to create:- An open museum with a place for everyone- A living lab museum that evolves with its users- a networked museum in touch with its communitiesBasically, we use the museum as a sandbox for people to create/remix a museum the way THEY want to do it.
A few months ago, I heard about We Are Museums, a 2-day event for professionals of culture and innovation being organized in Vilinus Lithuania by Diane Drubay, founder of Buzzeum based in Paris. I signed up to go immediately and then checked on the map to see where I was going.
All I really knew about We are Museums was Diane was bringing together diverse speakers to share ‘the same passion about art, innovation and culture, like all the dots which form a nebula, the image we chose to embody the conference’.
We are Museums did that and more.
The conference was more than just speakers – We are Museums arranged for lots of fringe and activities to give everyone the opportunity to network – not just sit and listen.
While every speaker added value to the conference, the following were my takeaways:Tags: Conference, International, museums
Straight after MuseumNext, I had to fly to Lisbon for a project. By the time I got home from travelling for 10 days, all the Takeway and items I was going to talk about have been covered (and much more eloquently than I would have done!):
- Oonagh Murphy Museum Next 2013
- Claire Ross Museum Next
- Tony Butler A few reflections on social and tech innovation #museumnext 2013
- Andrew Lewis Ideas from Museumnext 2013
- Museumnext Collaborative document
- MuseumNext Tumblr of slides and more
If you’re like me, you probably missed the Welcome note from Jim. In it, he describes the challenges he faced from his first MuseumNext 5 years ago. Even with having a heavy hitter like Nina Simon the interest wasn’t there. But soon it went International with the first brave delegate from the Netherlands.
And it has grown and grown ever since.Tags: amsterdam, Culture, digital, International, MuseumNext, museums
A few weeks ago (actually, this topic seems to creep up once or twice a year) I asked on Twitter whether it was the curators’ responsibility to embrace social media and other digital technology within their roles or should it be left to the department to which these roles already exist. There were a lot of interesting replies:
Curators already have too much on their plate. They have had to adjust from a history background to working with a business model. Curators are also traditionalists - this new fangle technology isn’t going to last (eg – it has to prove itself to curators).
Yes, they need to move with the times. Curators should translate collections and digital helps that translation. Social media and other digital apps help curators with that translation so they need to use it.
From this, Kelvin De Veth agreed to write this Guest Blogs with his thoughts on the subject.
Role of a Modern Day Curator in a Digital World
It may be a bit early to give the 21st century a name, but so far it definitely seems to be the digital century. You can’t walk across Times Square or through the Louvre without bumping into crowds of people taking out their phones and iPads to take a picture and upload it to their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Museums, showcasing past and present societies, will inevitably be influenced by this advancement in technology. The curator, in particular, will be affected by these changes. His/her profession has become much more accessible to the general audience, resulting in an explosion of “Twitter curators”, “Pinterest curators”, and so on. I don’t want to go into a discussion about what a curator is or should be, but this development will without a doubt have its effects on the curators working in museums, and their relationship with the digital world.
In my modest research and conversations with curators, I have found two major, and almost completely opposite, approaches to the challenges and opportunities created by advancing technologies.
These are a group of curators who aim to make their exhibitions as innovative as possible, both in content and exhibition design. Translating and presenting the meaning of a certain history can become much more accessible to the visitor via digital media. The audience can become more involved and interact with exhibitions before or after entering the physical space. Thanks to digital media, they don’t even need to visit anymore to get the basic gist of the show.
I have heard some great ideas for interpretation, such as using social media profiles to tailor the interpretation to the visitors’ interests and existing knowledge. It may still be a while until technology allows this, though.
Traditionalists are more wary about implementing digital media in exhibitions. There is a fear that by being too focused on the digital, it will alienate the segment of the audience that is not tech savvy. On top of that, the added pressure of staying up-to-date with all recent technological development and incorporating these into exhibitions can be too demanding on the curator—especially for curators who aren’t immersed in the tech world to begin with. One can wonder how much a focus on the tech side will actually benefit the exhibition content.
These seem to be the two main camps that divide the curatorial world at the moment, and there is no real consensus about to what extent the integration of technology in exhibitions is the responsibility of the curator. We need more time to see to what extent it is beneficial, but in the meantime it will be interesting to hear what the readers of this blog think.
What are your thoughts? Should curators embrace digital/social media or should that be left for ‘others’?